Despite “Good Faith” Effort, Bedford May Not Reach 20% Energy Reduction

By Kim Siebert MacPhail

Bedford has been designated as a Green Community since 2010
Bedford has been designated as a Green Community since 2010

Facilities Director Richard Jones presented an update on the Town’s energy profile to the Finance Committee (FinCom) last Thursday night, saying that even with a detailed plan for how to reduce current energy usage, Bedford might not be able to reach the goal of 20% reduction required within the required five year period. To date, Jones said that a 4% reduction has been achieved since the June 2009 baseline was established. To meet the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) deadline, the remaining 16% should be achieved by June 2014.

Jones said that he expects to reach the 8.9% reduction mark once the town realizes the benefits from a combination capital budget’s project appropriations from last spring’s Town Meeting and a $150,000 grant awarded shortly after Bedford became a Green Communities.

“In the FY14 capital budget, I have [another] request in for some additional energy efficiencies projects. If that’s approved, it will get us down to a 10.8% reduction,” Jones told FinCom.

“I think [by June 2014] we’re going to be close to [the required] 20% reduction,” Jones said, “maybe in the 15-18% range. We might make it to 20%—it’ll be close.”

Jones added that a part-time energy reduction manager, shared with the town of Arlington, will begin in February, focusing mostly on how to help Town building occupants change practices and behaviors that are not energy efficient, like leaving lights on and computers in active mode rather than turning lights off and programming computers to sleep or hibernate when appropriate.

“In the Schools, a big [issue] is leaving the computers turned on. Some of the older computers with the CRT screens are very high users of energy,” Jones added.

Jones can’t project how much more energy will be saved from future efforts and projects, so he refrained from estimating how these actions will affect the total reduction percentages.

“We recently submitted our first annual report as a Green Community,” Jones continued. “I asked our regional coordinator at the DOER about that and she said [that] based on what we submitted, they would have no problem considering Bedford a good faith community and continuing our Green Community status.”

“The good thing is, we don’t have to reach this goal—it’s a good faith effort,” he added. “If we don’t reach 20%, [the state] is not going to take away our Green Communities designation. It’s important [however] that we continue to appropriate funds to do energy efficiency work and continue to work toward 20%, even if we don’t reach it in 5 years.

Asked by FinCom member Ben Thomas to explain how the Green Communities program benefits Bedford, Jones said, “It’s a grant program. You need to be a Green Community in order to participate. The next grant cycle is coming up and we’ll be eligible to ask for some more money [for a specific energy reduction project] then.”

Jones also reported that natural gas prices, while reasonable now, are expected to come down further in the future once pipeline infrastructure has been improved. Because gas usage in the northeast has increased, there is now a bottleneck in delivery to this area, which increases the delivery surcharge. The infrastructure capacity is being addressed; resolution is anticipated within 2–3 years, Jones projected.

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9 years ago

“We don’t have to reach this goal…” No, but the planet’s burning up due to our continued greenhouse gas emissions, so we really do have to reach this goal, and far, far beyond this goal, if civilization is going to survive past 2100.

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